Highways the top issue in Athabasca

Three candidates registered

Buckley Belanger, NDP

Edna Daigneault, Green Party

Bobby Woods, Sask Party













By Mac Christie

The election race is heating up in the Athabasca constituency, with three candidates declared for the Nov. 7 vote.

Incumbent Buckley Belanger of the NDP has represented the riding since 1995, first as Liberal and then an NDP. In 2007 he won handily over the Saskatchewan Party candidate Phil Elliott by more than 800 votes, 1,885 to 1,012.

He said he’s confident in his chances this time around, but added it won’t be easy.

“People want to make sure that the candidates are out working hard,” he noted. “They want to see you earn and work for their support.”

Belanger named his biggest issue in the campaign as improving highways, particularly in First Nation’s communities.

“We’re going to be announcing support to pave roads into Canoe Lake, into Turnor Lake, Patuanak, Pinehouse and Dillon,” he said. “It’s about 280 km of roads.”

Belanger noted these communities also face issues with cell phone reception, something he also lists as a priority.

“These are fairly populated areas that don’t have any cell phone coverage.”

He listed other major issues as a continued need for housing and health care in the North.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan Party candidate Bobby Woods said he expects the people are going to elect someone who can represent the needs of the North.

The mayor of Buffalo Narrows for the past 14 years, Woods said he got into the race because he felt the region could be better represented by a member of the Saskatchewan Party.

“We don’t have anyone in government other than the two NDP reps from the North,” he noted. “When you’re sitting on the other side of the table arguing…against the people in power, you’re not going to get much co-operation.”

Woods also said his top priority is highways and roads throughout the region, but also listed policing and social issues, in addition to infrastructure and housing.

“People want to open up more communication with police,” he said. “They want to make sure that they have safer communities.”

While Woods said his experience as mayor would help him because he knows people in government, he said the biggest thing is that he sees himself as a common person.

“I was raised in Buffalo Narrows,” he said. “I lived the same lifestyle and I’ve seen all sides of society.”

Green Party candidate Edna Daigneault of Ile-a-la-Crosse has also been confirmed in the constituency, but was unavailable for comment.

No one from the Liberal party has yet to step forward, but candidates have until 2 p.m. on Oct. 22 to register for the election.


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